A Stanford University School of Medicine study in Nature Medicine reported that caffeine consumption counters the chronic inflammation responsible for more than 90% of many cardiovascular and other age-related diseases such as cancer, Alzheimer's and other dementias. Basically: coffee can slow down a widespread cause of aging.
It’s been known that coffee drinkers live longer than those who don't, but it wasn’t completely clear why.
“What excites me is that we now know that aging, or more specifically age-related diseases, can be avoided or delayed by behavioral means,” says the study’s lead author David Furman. “One mechanism associated with chronic inflammation can be easily inhibited simply by increasing caffeine intake. If we can control chronic inflammation, we could have a much longer lifespan and most importantly, health span."
Over eight years, Furman, a consulting associate professor at the Stanford Institute of Immunity, Transplantation and Infection, and his team tracked a group of adults age 60 to over 90.
“We’ve identified the triggers of this chronic inflammation and possibly a way to reverse it,” Furman says. Mark Davis, one of the senior authors of the study and director of the Stanford Institute says, “I don’t think there’s another study in the world that has gone on as long as ours that has been focused on the immune system, which has thousands of different components.”
Researchers studied gene clusters and found people with high levels of an "inflammatory protein" more often had high blood pressure and free radicals in their blood. Free radicals, the university said, can damage cells. Those with gene clusters containing low levels of the inflammatory protein more often had family members who lived age past 90 years old.
Here's where caffeine came in. The blood of the people with low levels of inflammatory protein was found to be "enriched for caffeine" compared to the other group.
Davis put it best: "That something many people drink - and actually like to drink - might have a direct benefit came as a surprise to us," he said. "What we've shown is a correlation between caffeine consumption and longevity. And we've shown more rigorously, in laboratory tests, a very plausible mechanism for why this might be so." So, coffee abstainers - does the idea of living longer convince you to pick up new java habit? And caffeine-addicts rejoice! You can be satisfied knowing that your favorite morning drink won't only keep you awake, but will keep some extra years on your life.